On the Trails: Wringing information out of wood


By Mary F. Willson

For the Juneau Empire

After some big winds, there were lots of downed trees over the trails. Trail crews soon cleared the ways, leaving the cut ends of tree trunks where we could count the growth rings, if we chose to do so. Seeing those exposed rings, plus thinking about the twisted trunks of some pines, made me contemplate wood a bit — wood as a biological entity, not as a commodity to be sold or a nuisance to be removed.

Growth rings are the cross-sections of xylem tissue (as botanists call it, from the Greek work for wood), constituting what we call

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